Friday, May 29, 2009

End of an era

What's this? That eternal manwhore Archie has finally made up his mind about which one of the two poor, deluded girls he's been stringing along for decades (and a staggering 600 issues) will finally have the honor of becoming Mrs. Manwhore!

Oh, the romance. So touching...

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Classic manga for the budget-minded

While poking around my local comic shop yesterday, I ran across this:

This Astro Boy collection from Dark Horse is the size and shape of a conventional paperback novel (I originally thought it might be a book tie-in for the upcoming Astro Boy movie), but it's actually a compilation of the first two complete volumes of Osamu Tezuka's classic manga. The small pages probably aren't the best vehicle for the art, but Tezuka's style still comes across, and--at $15--it's much cheaper than buying the individual options.

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Emma Watson wears muppet skin

...or maybe poodle skin. It's a little hard to tell.

Emma "Hermione" Watson has appeared in another bizarre photoshoot, this one for the French fashion magazine Crash. The photographs were taken by Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, and feature young Emma wearing a strange nun-like headdress, the muppet skin featured above, and lots of other, more conventionally ugly stuff. Check it out for yourself here.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If the Witness Lied, by Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B. Cooney’s If the Witness Lied is a top-notch young adult thriller: suspenseful and atmospheric, with a solid line-up of appealingly flawed characters.

If the Witness Lied is the story of the Fountain siblings—oldest brother Jack, sisters Smithy and Madison, and two-year-old Tris. Everyone in the Fountains’ small town knows that baby Tris caused his parents' deaths (his mother delayed chemotherapy to give birth to him, and he accidentally released the parking brake on the family car, killing his father), but no one realizes that the children’s media-hungry aunt has every intention of exploiting Tris’s story for TV. When Jack discovers his aunt’s plans, he takes his little brother and runs, setting off a chain of events that shed new light on their family tragedy.

Our biggest concern about this book is that the wordy title and serviceable-but-subdued cover art might fail to catch the eyes of teen readers. Hopefully this isn’t an issue, because If the Witness Lied is virtually guaranteed to rock the socks off YA mystery fans. A few over-the-top plot machinations never hurt anybody, and the instant, hard-hitting emotional punch of Cooney’s story should be right up young readers’ alleys.

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A (messy) room of their own

There was a recent Apartment Therapy post about the writing sheds of various famous authors, including Mark Twain (v. swanky exterior), Roald Dahl (above--he apparently refused to have it cleaned), Dylan Thomas (looks like you'd expect), George Bernard Shaw (predictably prissy), and Virginia Woolf (quite nice).

My own writing space is currently graced with three books, two dirty tea cups, assorted mail, several CDs, and an empty box of Kleenex, so on second thought, maybe I shouldn't be making any cracks about other people's home decor.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bad idea.

Well, TPTB have finally made up their minds: they do want a Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, but one without Willow, Xander, Spike, Dawn, et al. Oh, and without Joss Whedon, the man who took the original one-note-joke movie and turned it into five seasons' worth of truly great TV.

I guess this means they'll be sticking with the original version of the character, or taking the series in a completely new direction, seeing as Buffy's friends played such a significant role in the TV series. Hmm... I wonder if they'll bring back Pike, too?

Note: While I totally realize the TV show was vastly superior and and all, all this uproar does kind of make me want to re-watch the original movie. Is that wrong?


Illegal, by Paul Levine

In the first three pages of Paul Levine’s Illegal, disgraced trial lawyer Jimmy Payne bribes a judge, (literally) loses his shirt, and ends up with a gun in his face... and the pace of the book just picks up from there.

Still reeling from a family tragedy that ended his marriage, Payne is obsessed with happier times. When the last dregs of his life finally fall apart, his ex-wife convinces him to help Agustino Perez, a 12-year-old illegal immigrant looking for his mother, who was separated from him during their night crossing from Mexico. The search for Agustino’s mother takes Payne on a breakneck tour of the dark, hazardous world of California's migrant workers—a journey that neither he nor the boy seem likely to survive.

The boatloads of hardcore violence in Illegal might repel some readers, but pulp fiction fans will find a lot to enjoy about Payne, a wisecracking loser with a soft heart and a genius for getting into trouble, the bright, fearless Agustino, and Payne’s ex-wife, a consumer frauds detective with the L.A.P.D. Levine is already at work on the second novel in this series, and—while it might take a few months for our stomachs to settle from some of the ickier scenes in Illegal—we’re definitely looking forward to our next outing with these characters.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

New clips from the upcoming 'Vampire Diaries' adaptation

I'm not sure what made me giggle more, the show's overall quality or that dude's eyebrows:

But on the up side--the way, way up side--nobody appears to sparkle.

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A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy, by Charlotte Greig

Charlotte Greig’s thoughtful, beautifully-written debut novel A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy hovers somewhere between the general fiction and YA shelves: the story’s heroine is very—sometimes painfully—young, but the book features several issues usually segregated into the “books for grownups” section.

A Girl’s Guide is set at Sussex University in the mid-seventies, but the plot and its heroine are timeless. (Actually, apart from some music and television references, very little defined this book as a period piece. I assure you: marijuana, alcohol, flared pants, and stupid decisions are still visible in modern colleges.) Greig’s heroine is Susannah, a second-year philosophy student with an unpleasant, much-older boyfriend, Jason. Susannah knows she and Jason are going nowhere, but rather than leaving him (and his nicer-than-student-housing apartment), she drifts into an affair with her equally unsuitable tutorial partner. Dating two men—neither one of whom she actually likes—gets even messier when Susannah discovers she’s pregnant, and is finally forced to make some concrete decisions about her future.

Susannah is an extraordinarily plausible creation—a perfect blend of intelligence and the passivity, self-absorption, and extreme idiocy of youth. She spends the novel stumbling from one mistake the next, all the while searching for wisdom in the words of everyone from Søren Kierkegaard to Nietzsche to David Carradine in Kung Fu. I spent most of the story longing to kick some sense into her... but that’s actually a testament to Ms. Greig’s character development skills, because that’s generally how I feel about real college-age philosophy students, too.

Happily, this is one of the rare coming-of-age novels where the main character actually grows up. By the end of the novel, Susannah finally commits herself to a course of action, and, whether or not you agree with her, her willingness to make a decision and live with the consequences is a hopeful sign of her deepening maturity. I’m not sure if readers in their late teens and early twenties would be able to appreciate this character—she might hit too close to home—but those of us who have left our college years safely behind us will find a tremendous amount to enjoy.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beach reads on a budget

Frugal (and environmentally conscious) Wordcandy readers might want to check out, an online service that allows readers to earn credits by sending their used paperbacks to fellow readers, and then exchange the credits for different used books. I haven't used the site yet, but it sounds like a great way to stretch a tight summer book budget.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Free book-based movies GALORE

Those of you with kids (or those of you who ARE kids) might want to check out the Free Family Film Festival at various Regal Cinemas locations around the US this summer. Over nine weeks between June and August, Regal shows an assortment of G- and PG-rated movies each Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 AM. Theaters are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, and it's totally free. There have been a TON of book-based kid movies made this year, and this is a great opportunity to see them on the big screen and at a truly excellent price--everything from City of Ember to Horton Hears A Who to Kit Kittredge: American Girl.

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Sherlock Holmes, uncensored(?)

Ooooh, the trailer for the Sherlock Holmes movie is out: looks a bit like "Iron Man In a Cravat", but that's okay, right?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Foldable-e-readers: gimmicky or cool?

I was reading an Unplggd post about the Readius e-reader, an upcoming e-reader with a newfangled roll-up display. Behold:

I don't know anything about these machines (no info on price, etc.), but they certainly look like the sort of thing that will have technophiles all a-quiver.

[Images via]


The disappointment is ongoing...

Well, I just got the second issue of Marvel's Pride and Prejudice comic book, and I think it's even worse than the first one. I'm not sure where to start with my complaints, so I'll just type 'em up as they come to me:

1. The artwork sucks. Seriously, what is wrong with the way they draw the characters' lips? I think all the shading is supposed to suggest an attractive glossiness, but it just looks like everybody has crazy fish lips, and it's totally distracting.

2. This cover wasn't as good as the first one. I can't find a picture that includes the Cosmo-style headlines, but they include "Spring's Randiest Ribbons!". Um... "randy" doesn't mean "sexy", Marvel. It means "lecherous" or "aroused", and "Spring's Most Lecherous Ribbons" just doesn't make any sense. You might want to stop using Austin Powers as your British-English dictionary.

3. They fiddled with the scene where Mr. Bennet makes fun of Mary at the ball, making him less snide. The point of this scene, as I understand it, is that they both come across badly: Mary for being a show-off, and Mr. Bennet for being a jerk. That isn't communicated here, which means that a telling bit of character development for an important character (Mr. Bennet, not Mary) is lost.

4. They open with a written introduction featuring the following line:
"Having no particular desire to wed, [Elizabeth] has busied herself with interests, while keeping a keen eye on males suitable for her older sister, Jane."
This makes me nuts. I get the feeling that Marvel is trying to imply that Lizzy isn't boy-crazy, but this line obscures a fairly critical point: every single one of the Bennet girls is hoping for marriage.

Look, without money or rich relatives, the Bennet sisters are looking at two choices: marriage or semi-genteel poverty, further complicated by the entail on their father's estate, which means they'll have nowhere to live after his death. Understandably, Lizzy isn't a big fan of the "homeless and poor" option, so she definitely has a "particular desire" to wed. That doesn't make her silly or infatuated, it makes her sane.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

At long last...

... the Achewood shop is back open, so if you've been panting to buy a copy of The Great Outdoor Fight of your very own, now's your chance!

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Charlaine Harris stuff on the cheap

Charlaine Harris fans take note: the True Blood: Season One DVD comes out this week, and Target is running a promotion where if you buy the DVD (which they're selling for $34.99, but I have no idea how that stacks up against other retailers) plus a Charlaine Harris book, you'll get a five-dollar Target gift card. So if you've been watching the show and you're curious about the books, now might be a good time to pick one up. I suggest spending the five bucks on munchies for your True Blood-viewing marathon.

Note: I don't know if this is a regional offer or what, so check with your local store before you take my word for it, okay?

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Friday, May 15, 2009


I'm no fan of book desecration, but this is amazing:

It seems to be part of a series of promotional images for a bookstore in the Czech Republic. I'm not sure how it's made, or even if it's a real carving, but it sure looks cool.


Holy moly.

Chuck Bass is going to play Heathcliff?!?


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mystery solved

Speaking of movies, I've been wondering how Hollywood is going to turn Malcolm Gladwell's nonfiction bestseller Blink into a movie, and now I know: they're going to ignore 99% of their source material.

According to Yahoo!, the script will feature an older man and his estranged twentysomething son, an "idealistic drifter" with a gift for sizing up people and situations at a glance. His father, impressed by his son's ability, wants to use his skills to make money on Wall Street.

As I understand it, Gladwell's book is about the reliability of ordinary people's snap judgments, but if Hollywood wants to remake the book into a fictional account of some dude with a superpower, good for them. I'm assuming that Gladwell will make a bazillion dollars off of the whole thing, and I've never read it, so (for once) I totally don't care. Everybody's happy!

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Philip K. Dick heads to the big screen... yet again.

According to TheHollywoodReporter, the next Philip K. Dick novel to score a film adaptation will be his 1974 novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. I've never read this book, but the article includes a brief description:

"Set in a futuristic, dystopian world, Tears is the tale of a celebrity who wakes up after an assassination attempt to find no one has ever heard of him."
Sounds... delightful?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Midnight Secretary sequel in the works

AnimeNewsNetwork is reporting that Tomu Ohmi is planning a one-shot follow-up to her hugely popular Midnight Secretary* manga, which ended this month. This 36-page story, entitled "Midnight Butler", will feature Marika, the icy blond lady-vampire who played a minor role in Midnight Secretary.

*Midnight Secretary came in at #5 on our list of the Top Ten Vampire Stories to read Instead of Twilight--high praise indeed.

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New York manga fans take note!

In a bit of totally random news, the New York City Macy's store is having a Fruits Basket event. According to the press release:

Fruits Basket, the world's # 1 shojo manga, is coming to Macys! [This] story of a family with an ancient curse and the orphaned high school girl who changes their lives forever, has captivated the hearts and imagination of children all over the world.

On Saturday, May 16th at 2pm in Kids on 7, meet your favorite Fruits Basket characters, enter our costume contest dressed as your favorite character, and have your photo taken with Tohru and friends. With any kids purchase of $75 or more, receive a Fruits Basket DVD and book series!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

Trailer's up for the new Disney movie, fairytale fans:

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The wit and wisdom of Mary Bennet

Amanda Grange, author of the novel Mr. Darcy's Diary, pictured at right (not to be confused with this Mr. Darcy's Diary), has written a delightful collection of diary entries featuring Miss Mary Bennet's take on the events of Pride and Prejudice. Best of all, you can read them FOR FREE--my favorite price!--at Historical Romance UK. Enjoy!

[Via AustenBlog]

Note: Speaking of the *other* Mr. Darcy's Diary (the one by Maya Slater) mentioned above, did you guys know it's going to be released here in the US in June? They've reworked the title (The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy), but if you've always wanted to read about Austen's most well-known hero having sex with housemaids or hookers, now's your chance...

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Books at work

Home decor blog Apartment Therapy has featured a lot of book-related pictures, links, and ideas lately. There's a post on making floating bookshelves that won't damage your books, an image of a bookshop counter made entirely out of books, and, last but definitely not least, this charming but only semi-useful bookcase:

I have no idea how much this bookshelf will cost, and I suspect I don't want to know. It's very Disney's Alice in Wonderland, though.

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Keanu Reeves as Dr. Jekyll?


Not content with ruining my beloved Cowboy Bebop, is reporting that Keanu Reeves will be bringing his uniquely wooden charm to an upcoming film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Class act

In a truly classy gesture*, Jean Schulz (wife of the late Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts) has donated one million dollars towards renovating Sullivant Hall, the future home of the Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University. She also promises another $2.5 million in matching funds, should the university raise that amount.

*And for once, we're not even being sarcastic!

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Recycling: Jane Austen edition

Oooh, forum posters at the Republic of Pemberley have dug up several photos of the upcoming film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma.

I don't understand why they cast Johnny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley. Couldn't they have found somebody who hadn't already played an Austen hero? I hated Mansfield Park, but I actually thought he was pretty good as Edmund Bertram. But as Mr. Knightley?

No. A thousand times no.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fellow pop science geeks take note!

Oooooh, paleontologist Peter Ward (author of the awesome non-fiction book Out of Thin Air) is going to be appearing at the Burnside Powell's in Portland, Oregon next Monday. He's talking about his new book The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive? and, no doubt, depressing the hell out of us.

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New look for Jennifer Crusie

Wordcandy favorite Jennifer Crusie has changed her website, going for a vaguely circus-inspired, vintage-y vibe (rather like a less-scantily-clad Britney Spears, actually), and I think it looks pretty great. Also note that you can read the first chapter of her various standalone titles on this version of the site, including several books that are years out of print.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

England gets with the times

At long last, Britain has chosen a woman as its poet laureate: the Scottish-born, openly gay poet Carol Ann Duffy will be the first female to hold the post since it was created in 1668.

Duffy will serve a 10-year term as England's official royal poet, for which she will be paid an annual stipend of 5,750 pounds sterling per year, and the traditional "butt of sack"—600 bottles of sherry. (Awesomely, Duffy says she'll donate the stipend, but she's demanding the booze "up front".)

Dude. 600 bottles?

I bet I know what everyone on Ms. Duffy's Christmas gift will be getting this year.


Central Park Media folds

Anime producer and manga/manhwa publisher CPM filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week—the kind of bankruptcy where the company will be liquidated.

On one hand, any publisher shutting down is sad news. But on the other, CPM hasn't produced anything in a year or so, and their record was pretty spotty even before that. So at least we can't blame this failure on the Economy of Doom, and #Korean-Manhwa can finish scanlating the Masca series with a clear conscience.

That's something, right?

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More True Blood fun...

Well, last week we saw a clip, but here's a more, uh, "stylized" look at the upcoming second season of HBO's True Blood.

Urgh. It looks like a bad play, with really low-budget sets. Or maybe an interpretive dance...

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Required Reading

I was reading an article in my Sunday paper about Las Vegas's dwindling water supply (apparently, water could fall below the existing pipe to Lake Mead by 2012, thereby cutting off 40 percent of the city's water), and reflecting that this is further proof of one of my most dearly held beliefs: everybody who lives west of the Mississippi should read Marc Reisner's The Cadillac Desert at least once.

Best nonfiction book ever, guys.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Fire Me, by Libby Malin

Libby Malin’s new novel Fire Me takes a series of girl-book clichés (a self-effacing heroine, an overbearing family, a vaguely defined job) and combines them with the workplace hijinks of Office Space. The result is flawed, but offers plenty of snicker-inducing moments.

As the novel opens, P.R. specialist Anne Wyatt has just accepted a new job across the country, far from her overbearing, manipulative employer, with whom she once had a brief affair. She’s ready to resign, but when her boss announces a plan to reduce staff, she decides to get fired instead, thereby benefiting from her job’s generous severance package. Her plan leads to some impressively bad behavior—but when a co-worker kicks off a similar campaign, Anne discovers she’s up against some very creative competition for the “Most Undesirable Employee” position.

Fire Me has all the right ingredients for an over-the-top romantic comedy, but in the wrong proportions. The novel takes place over one day, and way too much plot is crammed into too short a time frame. Anne’s romance with a coworker doesn’t get enough screen time to be plausible and her budding friendship with her fellow employee-from-hell is underdeveloped. (If Malin was looking to save pages, Anne’s affair with her boss could have been cut entirely. It doesn’t add much to the story and it portrays Anne in an unsympathetic light—something readers aren’t given time to get past.) I spent plenty of time giggling over Fire Me, and I'm planning on checking out Malin’s other books, but here’s hoping the rest of her work moves at a more natural pace.


Anita Blake: the movie?!

Cable network IFC is working with Lionsgate to produce a TV movie based on the Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books. It is the network's first theatrical-length movie production, it will be aimed at men ages 18-34, and they're planning to air it next year.

Wow. Just... wow.

It's being aimed at men? The producers are making comparisons to True Blood and Buffy? Has anybody at IFC actually read these books—at least, the most recent ones? Because I don't think they are all that suitable for cable.

Not even late-night cable.

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Friday, May 01, 2009


Trailer's up for the upcoming film adaptation of Julie and Julia:

Ah, the magic of Hollywood... they managed to make Amy Adams dowdy, and Meryl Streep 16 feet tall.


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